This week the Washington Post published an investigative story about the roots of Baltimore’s persistent violent crime, interviewing Tara Huffman, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice program, and Morgan State Professor Dr. Lawrence Brown, a 2012 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow and recipient of OSI’s Bold Thinker award, among many others.
“This boils down to the relationship between communities and police,” Huffman told the police, speaking of the the police department’s low success rate in solving homicides. “They need people to come forward, they need people to answer the door when they knock, and they need people to talk to them on the scene.”
“You cannot coerce that,” she said. “You can beg and plead all you want to. If the relationship is screwed up, you’re simply not going to get the help that you need to solve these crimes.”
Dr. Brown, who coined the term “Black Butterfly” to refer to Baltimore’s largely segregated heavily African-American neighborhoods, said hypersegregation and structural racism are root causes of the ongoing violence.
“This structural violence contributes to the street violence that we see,” he said. “What hypersegregation does is that it distorts social dynamics. You don’t have resources in these communities, and people have to fight for every little crumb. And then comes the violence that ends up on the evening news.”